The 2021 NFL Draft class is loaded with talent, and as we dive into a full first round mock, the Las Vegas Raiders add an elite linebacker.
The 2020 NFL season is going to happen, and what that will look like remains to be seen, but the excitement is starting to build. All 32 NFL teams have been busy revamping their roster this offseason, including the Las Vegas Raiders, who got better on both sides of the ball.
As is the case every season, teams will come out of nowhere to shock the football landscape, and some teams will not live up to expectations. While it is hard to tell what teams will need what when all is said and done, that does not mean we cannot take a look at what should be a loaded 2021 draft class.
As school try to return to campus, there is also no telling what the college football season will look like, so it is hard to even gauge who will be available next April. Still, based on current rosters, we can get a look at what teams may be in the market for in 2021, so why not try our hand at a potential first round mock draft.
*Draft order courtesy of tankathon.com
Here is our first look at a potential first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves back in a familiar spot once again, picking in the top five of the 2021 draft. The Gardner Minshew experiment was fun while it lasted but it's time to finally get the quarterback position solidified with the selection of Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson.
Lawrence has all the tools you look for in a franchise quarterback with elite size and arm talent. In addition, he has a winning pedigree, and the added dimension of today's quarterback with the ability to run and extend plays with his legs.
The plan in Washington is to continue to build around Dwayne Haskins, and after another dismal 2020 season, they find themselves picking at No. 2 overall. There will be some temptation to select another Ohio State quarterback in Justin Fields, but Haskins is still a young developing quarterback, and Ron Rivera and his staff believe Haskins deserves one more year before moving on.
The best thing you can do for a young quarterback is to get him a stud left tackle to protect his blind side. Penei Sewell from Oregon has great size, length, and athleticism. He will be a lock to go in the top five.
A.J. Green isn't getting any younger and he has battled injuries in the latter part of his career. The Bengals placed the franchise tag on him this offseason but could certainly look to move on from him after the 2020 season.
Why not bring in a familiar face for new franchise quarterback Joe Burrow in Ja'Marr Chase, the 2019 Biletnikoff award winner who was a teammate of Burrow's at LSU. The chemistry between the two is unquestioned after their magical run to the national championship together, and the hope is that continues in Cincy.
The Carolina Panthers picking fourth overall signals that the decision to move on from Cam Newton in favor of Teddy Bridgewater did not get off to a get start in year one. The Panthers are on the hook for $40 million guaranteed in the first two years of Bridgewater's contract, but that doesn't stop them from selecting their future franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.
Fields might remind some of Cam Newton with his physical build, but he is a much better thrower of the football than Cam. Carolina head coach Matt Rhule cannot resist picking Fields here, as he looks to set his franchise up for the long run.
The Giants continue to build around franchise quarterback Daniel Jones by getting him a viable number one option at wide receiver. The way the roster looks right now there is not a receiving threat that will draw the attention of opposing defensive coordinators.
In 2019, Devonta Smith was overlooked on the Alabama offense by stars Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, who were first round selections in 2020. Smith might not have their speed, or route running, but he has the best set of hands of the trio, and would be a favorite target of Jones in the Big Apple.
Much like in Cincinnati, now that you have your franchise quarterback in place, it's time to support him with some weapons on the outside. Rondale Moore is exactly that. A threat to score anytime he touches the ball, Moore is an explosive playmaker.
Moore is undersized at 5-foot-9 inches, but he has elite speed, and we have seen how the league values speed in recent drafts. Miami has built their roster up in a big way this offseason, and in 2021, they put the final pieces in place of what could be a perennial playoff team.
The Detroit Lions could look to address quarterback with this pick, but with the top two options off the board they look to take care of another premium position instead. Alex Leatherwood isn't as finished of a product as former teammate Jedrick Willis, but he returns to Alabama for his senior season to polish up some of the things before going pro.
He has the skill set to be a very good pro, and Detroit has had their issues along the offensive line in recent years. Matthew Stafford is still a very productive quarterback, but his window is closing, so protecting him has to be priority No. 1.
Gregory Rousseau burst onto the scene as a red shirt freshman at Miami (FL) with 15.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. This pick feels like a New York Jets pick, as the have valued high selections on the defensive side of the ball in recent years.
Rousseau is far from a finished product, but don't be surprised to hear his name called in the top-ten with another highly productive year in 2020 for the Hurricanes. The Jets have issues on both sides of the ball, including coming off the edge on defense, so Rousseau makes sense at pick No. 8 overall.
The Las Vegas Raiders addressed many needs during the 2020 free agency period, as well as the draft, but if there is an area where they could still use some help it's at linebacker. Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski are major upgrades, but after the two of them it's Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, and Kyle Wilber.
Micah Parsons may not possess the elite sideline to sideline speed we have seen from linebackers coming out in the past, but he has great size at 245 pounds and instincts that you need for the position. The Raiders are close to being a playoff team, and Parsons could do some serious damage on this defense, but if they are picking in the top-10, something went wrong this season.
Heading into the 2020 college football season, Walker Little will be returning from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in the opener from a year go. Wisely, he decided to return to Stanford for his senior year to prove he is healthy.
In two full seasons with the Cardinal, Walker has proven to be a plus-run blocker and dependable as a pass protector. If Little can show the knee injury is behind him, expect to hear his name called early on day one.
Ohio State has been a defensive back factory, producing a number of first round picks in recent years. Shaun Wade was playing in the shadow of 2020 first round selections Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette a year ago, but the spotlight will be on him to shine this year as the Buckeyes shutdown corner.
Wade played primarily in the slot in 2019, but has the size and skill to move to the outside where he will excel. The Broncos have some talented defensive backs, and in Wade, they get another guy to solidify the unit for the foreseeable future.
Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Peterson is entering the final year of his contract and will turn 30 years of age in July. As of now, the Cardinals have not made a move to extend beyond this season. If the two sides can not get a deal done then expect the Cardinals to look to replace him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Patrick Surtain III would be an ideal replacement. On defenses loaded with NFL talent the last two seasons Surtain found a way to get on the field as a young player and make plays. Arizona is a year or two away from being a contender in the NFC, and Surtain has star written all over him.
The Falcons signed Todd Gurley in the offseason, but he is a shell of his once MVP self. The Falcons are hoping to catch lightening in a jar with Gurley in 2020, but he is hardly the long term option in Atlanta.
Travis Etienne has been one of the most electric backs in all of college football the last two seasons, rushing over 1,600 yards in both campaigns. Etienne has game breaking speed. He will need to put on some weight to keep up with the wear and tear of a true bell cow back in the NFL.
Marvin Wilson has the potential to be a top-ten pick, and the Miami Dolphins are happy to add him here at pick 14. The philosophy for the Dolphins is to continue to add good football players to the roster as their rebuild is underway.
Wilson has shown the ability to be a disruptive presence on the interior, with upside as a pass rusher. This Dolphins defense added a bunch of veteran talent via free agency this offseason, and in Wilson, they get a young, mold-able player along their defensive line.
Dylan Moses was being talked about as a potential Day 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft prior to missing the entire season with ACL injury he suffered in training camp. He decided to return to Alabama to solidify his status as an early first round pick, and Moses is an elite prospect.
A great player comparison for Moses is former Alabama Linebacker, and now New York Jets linebacker, C.J. Mosley. He has been highly touted since his high school days, and in Cleveland, he could become a leader on the defensive side of the ball.
Paulson Adebo flirted with the 2020 NFL Draft but opted to return for his senior season at Stanford. After highly productive sophomore and junior seasons, Adebo will be one of college footballs top corners.
Over the last two seasons Adebo racked up 30 pass breakups and eight interceptions. The Jaguars secondary is starting to take shape with this pick, as they will have two young talented corners with C.J. Henderson and Adebo to lead the way.
The Chicago Bears are throwing the towel in on Mitchell Trubisky. Nick Foles was brought in during free agency to compete with Trubisky for the starting job, but the Bears are looking for a long term fix at the position.
Trey Lance needs to put another good year of tape together before he is a lock to be a Day 1 pick, but he is on NFL GM radar's after an outstanding 2019 season. Lance threw 28 touchdowns to zero interceptions, adding 1,100 yards on the ground with 14 touchdowns.
Joe Tryon had a breakout junior season at Washington, registering eight sacks, 41 tackles, and 14 tackles for loss. Tryon is still a work in progress, but has the size/speed combination that the NFL covets at the defensive end position.
If Tryon builds on his impressive junior season he will see his stock soar up draft boards. The Huskies have had some solid defenses as of late, and in Tryon, they get a guy who could be in the discussion for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Indianapolis Colts rolled the dice on Philip Rivers this offseason, hoping that the veteran signal-caller still has something left in the tank. As they look forward to the 2020 NFL season, they will be in contention in a very wide open AFC South, but this draft order has them falling short of the playoffs.
With the No. 19 overall pick, the Colts should look to continue to address their secondary, adding Jevon Holland from Oregon. Sure, they have Malik Hooker, and Julian Blackmon was a third round pick in 2020, but Holland is special, and could be the first safety off the board next April.
The Tennessee Titans locked up Ryan Tannehill to a long-term deal this offseason after the veteran led the team to the AFC title game. Now, they need to turn their attention to running back Derrick Henry, because if they can get him signed on for the long haul, their offense is going to be tough to stop.
One area they could look to address during the 2021 NFL Draft is wide receiver, as they need to bring in more talent to compliment Corey Davis. Jaylen Waddle from Alabama may not be getting the preseason buzz that teammate Devonta Smith is, but he is going to be an explosive playmaker at the next level.
The New England Patriots shocked the football world on Sunday, when they agreed with Cam Newton on a one-year and very team friendly deal. With Newton aboard, the Patriots should once again be a playoff team in 2020, their first season in 20 years without Tom Brady under center.
Looking ahead, they should take a look at some of the quarterbacks this draft has to offer, including Jamie Newman, who is transferring from Wake Forest to Georgia this season. Newman can get the job done with his arm, and his legs, and could be the next franchise guy in New England.
The Seattle Seahawks are a team that not many people are talking about heading into the 2020 NFL season, but one that could once again make some noise in the NFC. Anytime you have Russell Wilson as your starting quarterback you are going to do big things, and they should be a playoff team once again this season.
Along the offensive line, the Seahawks need to start planning for the future, and they get Wilson a premier left tackle in Sam Cosmi from Texas. Protecting Wilson has to be priority No. 1 moving forward, and in Cosmi, they get a guy who could protect his blindside for the rest of his career.
The Philadelphia Eagles will have a healthy Carson Wentz under center in 2020, which means they should at least be a playoff team. Wentz has shown he can win games in bunches when healthy, and the hope is that he can avoid the injury bug entering his fifth season in the league.
Looking at their roster, they may need to add a player to their offensive line next April, and Carlos Basham from Wake Forest is a guy who should hear his name called in the first round. Basham is entering his fourth season with the Demon Deacons, is fresh off a ten-sack campaign, and had 18 tackles for a loss last season.
The Green Bay Packers have a legitimate franchise quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, a player who is destined for the Hall of Fame. However, the window for him is starting to close a bit, and that why it was shocking that the team did not add a wide receiver during the 2020 NFL Draft.
In 2021, they do not make that mistake again, giving Rodgers a premier wideout for the remainder of his career. Seth Williams from Auburn has improved over his two years with the Tigers, and as we saw last season, he has a knack for getting into the end zone.
The Buffalo Bills were an early favorite to win the AFC East, but that was until the Patriots signed Cam Newton for at least the 2020 NFL season. Still, this is a team that is built for the playoffs, and when all is said and done, they should return for a second straight season with Josh Allen under center.
In Allen, the Bills have a franchise quarterback that they are going to try and mold, and he could use some help at tight end. Kyle Pitts from Florida should be the first tight end off the board next April, and he would be a perfect addition to a Bills offense that added Stefon Diggs this offseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reeled in the biggest fish in free agency this offseason, signing six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. He instantly makes the Bucs a contender in 2020, and if he plays up to his ability, the team could be picking this late in round one.
With this late-round pick, the Bucs should look to add a running back, and Najee Harris will be another in a long line of solid backs to come out of Alabama. He rushed for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, and Tampa Bay would surely like that kind of production out of their feature back.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger for most of the 2019 NFL season, yet they were still in it until Week 17, even with Mason Rudolph as their starter. Heading into 2020, Big Ben is healthy, and the Steelers have to be considered a contender in the AFC.
In terms of needs heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, they should look to continue to add to a secondary that was bolstered by the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick last season. Israel Mukuamu from South Carolina had four interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown, and has the size you look for in a press corner.
The Dallas Cowboys continue to drag their feet with star quarterback Dak Prescott, who signed his franchise tag earlier this month. With Prescott in the fold for 2020, the Cowboys are going to be a team to beat in the NFC, so it is possible they are picking this late in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With this pick, they should look to add to the safety position, one that lost Jeff Heath via free agency to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason. In Andre Cisco from Syracuse, the Cowboys get an absolute ballhawk, a player who has racked up 12 interceptions in two seasons, and is not afraid to come up and make a big hit.
The New Orleans Saints locked Drew Brees up to an extension this offseason, ensuring that the future Hall of Famer will be their signal-caller for at least the next two seasons. New Orleans has one of the more explosive offenses in football, and even with the talent they have at wideout, they should select one in the first round in 2021.
Chris Olave from Ohio State is one of the premier wideouts in the country, and in 2019, he showed that he can be a guy who lights up the scoreboard. Hauling in passes from Justin Fields, Olave found the end zone 12 times, which meant one in every four receptions he had during the season went for six.
The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to shake off the playoff blues this season, as they have been one-and-done through the first two years with Lamar Jackson as their starter. The reigning MVP has the weapons he needs to continue in his development, so in 2021, the Ravens should look to add to the other side of the ball here at No. 30.
Jay Tufele is one of the more dominating defensive tackles in college football, and would slide in along a defensive line that is getting up there in age. Tufele is not only solid against the run, but he can be a menace in the backfield, as evident by his ten sacks over the last two seasons.
The San Francisco 49ers were the last team standing in the NFC last season, and entering the second half of the Super Bowl, they looked to be on their way to a title. However, Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes things, and the 49ers blew their second half lead in an 11-point loss to Kansas City.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, they need to address the cornerback room, one that has an aging Richard Sherman, although he is still very good at the position. Tyson Campbell from Georgia would be a perfect player to take the mantle from Sherman, as he is an incredible athlete, is solid in coverage, and is a former five-star recruit.
The Kansas City Chiefs won it all last season, becoming the first Chiefs team to win the Super Bowl in the last 50 years. Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs will return most of their starters in 2020, making them the early favorite to once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Trey Hill from Georgia will help solidify the interior of their offensive line, as he could be the first center off the board. He has been the anchor on some Bulldogs teams that have downright dominated the line of scrimmage, and he would be a great protector for Mahomes.
As it stands, unfortunately, the Chiefs are the favorites to win the Super Bowl next season, and they will close out the first round. Of course, every season is different, and you never know what could happen, but if the Chiefs pick at No. 32 next April, that means they went back-to-back.